Sophomore ends Penn-Trafford jinx
HERSHEY - Thanks to sophomore Shane Young, the jinx is over at Penn-Trafford.
Young (46-0, 67-18) became the school's first state wrestling champion when he defeated Council Rock South junior Mark Rappo, 5-2, in the 103-pound final Saturday night at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at the Giant Center.
Not that Young needed any incentive to win a state title, but he was motivated when the Council Rock South fans started chanting "Let's go, Rappo."
"I heard that a lot at practice this year from the coaches, trainers and fellow wrestlers," Young said. "It gets me fired up."
Young, who lost to Rappo twice during the summer, was the clear aggressor against his opponent. He got a first-period takedown to grab a 2-0 lead. Rappo (52-1, 102-10) was able to tie the score at 2-2 with escapes in the second and third periods, but Young escaped with 51 seconds left to take a 3-2 lead.
His takedown with six seconds left caused Rappo to pound the mat with his right fist. The loss also brought tears to the eyes of Rappo, who knelt on the mat with his hands covering his face, and Penn-Trafford coach Vince Testa.
Young is Testa's first state champion at Penn-Trafford. Testa and assistant coaches Dave Barr and Randy Guinther are retiring after 18 years of coaching.
"I thought I was proud when I had my first state champ in 1987 in New Jersey," Testa said. "That only took four years. It's been 18 years and when you wait that long for something, you appreciate it a lot more. What a great way to end a career."
Young reached the finals with an impressive 10-3 win over Bellefonte freshman Mitchell Port in the semifinals yesterday morning.
"This is big, exciting and the biggest thing that's happened to me in wrestling," Young said. "I wasn't expecting to go undefeated. But I didn't take the summer off, worked hard and wrestled non-stop.
"It's not the first time we've wrestled. We know each others' style; I had the shots and took them."
Hempfield senior Steve Santia (43-9, 96-36) pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the finals when he stunned Manheim Central's Marcus Zimmerman in the first period.
"I believed in myself," Santia said. "He tried to throw me, but I knew he couldn't. I was ready for it. I got him on his back one time, and I knew I could do it again."
Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine, the last Hempfield wrestler to win a state title, said Santia wrestled the tournament of his life.
"I knew Steve had the talent to win a state title, but he's only been wrestling for three years," DeAugustine said. "Steve peaked at the right time."
Nick Nelson (34-2, 167-15) of Shaler and North Allegheny's Rob Waltko (42-4, 150-14) finally won their first state titles, which eluded them in the past.
Nelson easily defeated State College's Stave Bosak, 7-3, in the 145 final, and Waltko edged Penn-Trafford's A.J. Brentzel, 6-3.
"Hard work pays off," said Nelson, who placed second last year. "I told myself you have to suck it up and go after it."
Nelson took Bosak down early and controlled the match.
Waltko was able to take an early lead against Brentzel. After Brentzel tied the score, 3-3, Waltko got an escape and late takedown in the third period to secure the win.
"I felt more confident this week up here," Waltko said. "Michael Jordan said he's successful because he's failed so many times. I knew I could wrestle with anyone here."
Canon-McMillan junior Colin Johnston (37-3, 122-8) and Latrobe senior Ryan Goodman (37-2, 142-20) were both denied their second titles.
Johnston fell to Governor Mifflin senior Corey Houser, 13-8, in the 125-pound final, and Goodman dropped a controversial 2-1 overtime match to three-time state champion Tim Darling of Nazareth.
Houser (23-1, 94-18) dominated the match from the start, getting a takedown 19 seconds into the match. He turned Johnston twice for back points during the match.
Darling was awarded a penalty point in overtime after Goodman was called for a false start for the third time.
Darling said it was a cheap way to win his third title.
"It's not the way I wanted to win," Darling said. "I'm not sure those calls against Ryan were there. It's part of the sport. There were a lot of bad calls."
Goodman said he made a couple of stupid mistakes.
"I false-started twice, but not three times," Goodman said. "He cautioned, too. I wish we could have settled in the ultimate overtime."
Canon-McMillan senior Matt Ryan also came up short. He fell to Bald Eagle Area's Quinten Wright, 6-3.